As my car was gulping down gallons of gravel on the 57 South, I was subconsciously steering away from my past and driving towards my future.
From an aerial view, my beat up, beige Lexus sedan was a fraternal twin to all other vehicles besides me, the only difference being the destination. Jay Z’s “The Blueprint” was entering my ears and making its way through every microfiber of my body. Hearing him rap on “U Don’t Know” about smartening up in order to open the market up, was not a bar- it was a commandment.
It was time to take my exposure to the world of sports and hip hop, and center that energy towards answering one question, why are people poor in America?
The only thing I know is that it is not as simple as individuals “not trying hard enough”.
Besides attending Arizona State University for five months, I’ve lived in Arcadia, California my whole life. A place where poverty and homelessness were seemingly non-existent, and the public school district was among the best in all of California.
Growing up here provided me with a natural bias when it came to how I viewed the blue collar section of America. My naive mind used to drive through a city similar to Santa Ana, where white picket fence homes, mansions, and skyscrapers are fictional and suppose it was a side effect directly related to behavior.
The ignorant thoughts I previously owned are not uncommon in suburban America, and it’s caused by assuming before experiencing. Like a wise man once said “assumptions only make an ass out of you and me.” The power of assumptions was explained poetically in “Good Will Hunting” as therapy sessions between Robin Williams and Matt Damon showed viewers that a high IQ is only applicable to memorizing texts and solving complex math theorems.
A high IQ doesn’t mean squat when it comes to grasping concepts like poverty, joy, and love, because in order to understand those abstract experiences it takes exposure. After all the brain is an environmental organ shaped through life.
I drove away from a place where many people I encountered turned assumptions into biased “facts,” to a city that at times can make you feel like you aren’t doing enough. So to those that say, “poor people are lazy,” come on down to Santa Ana and experience before you assume.